When Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

The best time to hire a criminal defense lawyer is as soon as you know that you are suspected of doing a crime. Clearly if there’s been an arrest or if there is a pending arrest warrant, then a defense lawyer like Robert Hambrick in Clearwater, Florida will need to be on the case quickly so that he can begin an effective defense for you.

What would Clarence Darrow think of Florida police investigations and arrests?

An effective defense in criminal law will have the following attributes:

  1. An intense focused investigation into all of the facts of the alleged offense.
  2. An immediate investigation into every possible witness. Finding witnesses, then using information to exploit any inconsistencies among their versions of the relevant facts of the incident.
  3. An appraisal of any victim statement with a review of the victim’s motives, aims and prejudices.
  4. Finding other evidence consistent with a lack of probable cause for the arrest.
  5.  Framing of the incident in such a way that minimizes criminal conduct.

When officers make an arrest they do so believing that they have what is known as probable cause. Probable cause means that they have more than a mere suspicion that a crime occurred and that the arrested person committed the crime. Typically probable cause exists when there is physical evidence of a crime combined with other compelling evidence, such as fingerprints, video or witnesses that places the defendant at the scene of the crime. Whenever there has been an arrest for a crime time should not be wasted in securing the services of a criminal defense lawyer who will mount an exhaustive thorough defense as soon as possible.

But what if there is no arrest yet? In any criminal investigation even where there is not yet an arrest, hiring a defense lawyer is necessary to make sure that the chances of criminal charges being filed are minimized. The goal is to make sure that there is never probable cause to secure an arrest in the case.

In federal court in the Middle District of Florida an investigation itself can result in criminal charges in unexpected ways even when there is insufficient probable cause to make an arrest. For example, government agents from the FBI often ask a potential target of a federal charge questions. If the target agrees to speak with the agents without the presence of defense counsel FBI agents may arrest the target for the federal crime of obstruction by not telling them the truth. A criminal lawyer would prevent the questioning or at least warn the target of the potential criminal charge that can come even when cooperating with federal agents.

These charges may seem unAmerican, but they are in fact unlawful acts for which someone may face an indictment by a federal grand jury. Because of the complexities of the law it’s very important to hire a Clearwater defense lawyer as soon as you have knowledge that you are being investigated by federal or state authorities.


The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a drug dog sniffing detection case involving one of our favorite brave and faithful Florida canine friends, named Franky, whose unfortunate occupation is sniffing the front door of Florida homes for drugs so that search warrants can be obtained. The case is from an appeal of the Florida Supreme Court in Florida v. Jardines in which the Florida Court stated that,  “This Court has explained that a dog sniff is not a search because the sole knowledge that the dog obtains by sniffing is the presence of contraband, which a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in possessing in the first place.
It’s my strong belief that Florida Supreme Court is misguided, because a home – not being a public place but in some respects the only private place left for us – should be treated differently than say, an airport – where the immediate safety of all passengers may require greater scrutiny and the use of drug dogs to find drugs or explosives without a warrant. 
The case will resolve the constitutional issue of whether police must have probable cause, that is a strong belief that evidence of a crime exists and that the evidence will be found at the scene, before law enforcement officers can use a drug dog to sniff at the front door of a suspect home which the officers believe is a marijuana grow house (a home that has been converted into a virtual garden for marijuana plants).
Two important probable cause issues will be determined which your favorite Clearwater Drug Defense Attorney believes you’ll find of interest:

(1) Whether a dog sniffing at the front door of a suspected marijuana grow house by a trained narcotics detection dog is a Fourth Amendment search requiring probable cause. 
(2) And Whether the officers’ conduct during the investigation of the marijuana grow house, including remaining outside the house while waiting for the search warrant is in and of itself, a Fourth Amendment search.

This blog earlier discussed probable cause issues with vehicles involving another Drug Dog named Aldo whose sniffing was found by the Florida Supreme Court to not be up to snuff. Should you need expert legal defense have a Clearwater Defense Attorney take a look at your case. 

A Narcotics Detective enjoys teaching Police Dogs how to smell marijuana…

File:Ansdell Richard The Lucky Dogs.jpg
Andsell Richard, The Lucky Dogs, 1881


Imagine a dark Orwellian world where everything you do is on video and everything you do is closely examined in the hope it can be used as evidence against you in the future.

Well, if you live in Pinellas County, Florida you don’t have to imagine that world anymore, as your Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office secretly put hundreds of customers under video surveillance for over a year at a plant store called Simply Hydroponics. Law enforcement then used identifiers of the customers, such as the tags on their vehicles to track them, spy on them and to obtain search warrants which contained at best highly unlikely information.

This should make every American angry and even makes your favorite Clearwater Defense Lawyer despair for the future of our country.
In one case law enforcement officers placed a plant store customer’s home under surveillance then swore under oath in a search warrant that they could smell the marijuana plants and heard the distinct noise of foliage being broken from within what they designated as a suspected marijuana grow house. Our intrepid detectives found a single marijuana plant upon forcing their way into the home.
If there’s one thing all of us as Americans should be against it’s unbridled government surveillance and the destruction of our privacy rights. Yet we should also agree that the inherent corruption which resulted in officer’s telling lies under oath must also be rooted out.
The surveillance, the lies, the misinformation and the failure of law enforcement to abide by basic American standards of Justice should result in the immediate investigations of every law enforcement officer and every prosecutor involved as prosecutors routinely draft, prepare and take the search warrants to Judges for signatures. 
A Grand Jury should immediately be convened by the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate he highest positions at the Sheriff’s Office and at the State Attorney’s Office, to find who was responsible for placing the video equipment near the store, to find what other stores or public areas are secretly under surveillance and to bring to justice all of those who did this or allowed this to be done under their watch.

Here are a few excerpts about smell as possible probable cause from the St. Petersburg Times Article: Young plants don’t emit an odor, but if a person were growing “hundreds” of mature plants in a structure that wasn’t properly sealed, it’s “possible” an officer very close to the home would notice the smell…James Woodford of Chattanooga, Tenn., an expert on the topic of marijuana odor, said a large operation vented directly outdoors could generate an occasional “whiff” of marijuana detectable up to 25 to 30 feet away [i.e., less than half the distance between the sidewalk and Underwood’s “alleged grow room”]….Law enforcement officers commonly use the smell of marijuana to establish probable cause.
Drug Crimes Trial Lawyer & Criminal Defense Attorney in Clearwater, FL
Times Editorial: America shouldn’t be a surveillance society
Video Surveillance – Are Hidden Cameras Legal?
933.07 Issuance of search warrants.
(1) The judge, upon examination of the application and proofs submitted, if satisfied that probable cause exists for the issuing of the search warrant, shall thereupon issue a search warrant signed by him or her with his or her name of office, to any sheriff and the sheriff’s deputies or any police officer or other person authorized by law to execute process, commanding the officer or person forthwith to search the property described in the warrant or the person named, for the property specified, and to bring the property and any person arrested in connection therewith before the judge or some other court having jurisdiction of the offense.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, based on grounds specified in s. 933.02(4)(d), may obtain a search warrant authorized by this chapter for an area in size up to and including the full extent of the county in which the search warrant is issued. The judge issuing such search warrant shall conduct a court proceeding prior to the issuance of such search warrant upon reasonable notice and shall receive, hear, and determine any objections by property owners to the issuance of such search warrant. Such search warrant may be served by employees or authorized contractors of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Such search warrant may be made returnable at any time up to 6 months from the date of issuance.

933.04 Affidavits.The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable seizures and searches shall not be violated and no search warrant shall be issued except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation particularly describing the place to be searched and the person and thing to be seized.

From Orwell’s novel 1984, The three slogans of the Party on the Ministry of Truth Building.